Title: Time and Time Again
Author: Ben Elton
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: December 22nd, 2015
The Breakfast Octopus’ rating: B
If you had one chance to change history…Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you kill?
In Time and Time Again, international best-selling author Ben Elton takes readers on a thrilling journey through early 20th-Century Europe.
It’s the first of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.
Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.
Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century? And, if so, could another single bullet save it?
Time and Time Again is that rare find: a time travel story done right. Immediately after reading it, I was blown away. The foundation Elton lays is excellent, and the twists and paradoxes make sense in the context of the story. True, I figured one or two things out before they were revealed, but I think that was intentional, as I’m generally one of the most credulous readers you’ll meet: I hardly ever figure out what’s going to happen before it does.
Staunton is sympathetic in his grief for his lost family, and believable as a man from the not-too-distant future running around in the past. I like the mechanics of this version of time travel (Isaac Newton! Mysterious societies! Hand-wavy science!) and the descriptions of life in 2024.
On closer inspection, a couple of things got to me, both large and small. The story was a bit rushed towards the end, and the dialogue in the last few chapters felt stilted, which was more noticeable because of how much smoother it had been towards the beginning. There were also a few loose threads that weren’t tied up, perhaps intentionally, and the introduction of a new character later in the book broke the rule of “show, don’t tell”. That said, I didn’t notice these flaws until after I’d finished speeding through the book.
In any case, you may see where the story is going before you get there, but I think you’ll enjoy the ride. Time and Time Again is out now.
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